Redundancy can affect us in a myriad of ways. For many in middle-age it can trigger feelings of worthlessness and despair that we never fully shake off.
Then there are those at the other end of the spectrum, like Sydney mum-of-two Kathie Argyros.
After almost two decades of loyal service to Qantas, Kathie was one of 1500 management let go in 2014, the same year the national carrier axed 5000 staff in a do-or-die move to stay afloat.
But instead of wallowing in self-pity, and spiralling downward, Kathie strapped on the rose-tinted glasses and went in an entirely different direction.
Inspired by her lifelong love of Paris – she got engaged there as a 24-year-old and returned to celebrate her 50th in 2013 – Kathie used the redundancy cheque to launch her own French homeware store, French Cargo.
“I thought, ‘this is my opportunity, this is my chance’,” beams Kathie, who has always loved French interiors for their timelessness and elegance.
“I’d just turned 50 the previous year, and I wanted to follow my dream now, I didn’t want to live with regret.
“I knew my life wasn’t over just because Qantas had decided to make changes. So, instead of playing victim, I said ‘Well, that’s okay’. One door closes, another one is going to open.
“And this is my opportunity to do what I’ve always wanted to do – open a French homeware store and Qantas is going to help me do it by financing it. So how can I not and punch the air and say wonderful.”
Do what you love
In just a few whirlwind weeks after leaving Qantas, Kathie pursued her dream with gusto, signing up for an interior design course, registering the business, building a website, and dashing back to Paris for a fact-finding peek at a homewares show.
It was a steep learning curve, admits Kathie, but her unwavering belief that she was filling a gap in the market kept her on course.
“It was flying blind for a while, but my instinct was so strong that I just kept going.
“A lot of French products are badly copied knockoffs or if they are authentic, they are very expensive to buy. I wanted to bridge the gap and offer people, a quality product at an affordable price with a European design. I personally select every item in my store, and quality is never compromised.”
Today, Kathie, now 54, has a flourishing bricks and mortar store in Ramsgate, Sydney, a burgeoning online clientele, and is branching into interior styling work through her retail customers.
She also works closely with real estate agents in helping style their clients homes in preparation for sale, and in the not-too-distant future she hopes to pivot into organising bespoke shopping tours to Paris for small groups of women.
“The world is yours, there is nothing stopping you,” says Kathie when asked for a message to others.
“Don’t put things off any longer. Follow your dream now when you have the chance. I know there is an age thing out there, and some people do give up because of a few knock backs, but change your angle, try something different.
“We have a lot of knowledge and experience so be proud that you have made it so far. We are all legends and survivors – so find out what makes your heart sing and go for it.
“If you do what you love, sometimes opportunities will present themselves in the most unusual way.”